Volume 6, Issue 2/3
  • ISSN: 2588-8277
  • E-ISSN: 2667-162X



This contribution sheds light on the rhetorical use of the projection lantern in the Belgian public lecture circuit at the turn of the twentieth century by means of a . By analysing a lantern lecture delivered by the Russian writer and lieutenant colonel Yulij Lukyanovich Yelets (1862-1932), presented to the Royal Geographical Society of Antwerp (KAGA) on 9 October 1903, we question how Yelets’ public performance was rhetorically constructed through word and lantern images. Through an in-depth exploration of the social and intellectual biography of Yelets, insight is gained into how lecturers and organisations found each other in the Belgian , and what the underlying reasons for lantern performances like these might have been. The content of Yelets’ lecture concerned a topic that strongly touched on much more widely spread sentiments and sensitivities in Belgian society at the time, namely the Chinese Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) and the related ‘yellow peril’. It will be argued that public illustrated lectures fulfilled an important social role in the communication of new ideas, knowledge, or, in the case of Yelets, popular geopolitical ideas and stereotypes. Public lectures were seldom at the basis of these popular or (scientific) ideas, but they did contribute, in their own way, to the public opinion surrounding them and to their broader dissemination and communication.


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